Super Tuesday may be coming, but I had a Super Saturday thanks to Newt Gingrich bringing his campaign close to home this weekend. Knowing Newt was heading home to Georgia, I wished I could attend a rally but had a full day planned. It wasn’t until flipping pancakes for breakfast I checked the events schedule on Newt.org and realized I’d be able to go.
It fueled my steps and energized my morning. I gobbled down the kamut and kefir pancakes (worthy of a separate blog post) and hurried out the door to South Forsyth High School for the 10:00 event.
Campaign signs lined the grass median close to the high school, and cars parked in overflow wooded areas near the street as people walked towards the buildings. Several cars before me waited as parking attendants spoke to drivers through their windows. I rolled down my window and overheard one say, “We’re at full capacity. I’m sorry you’ll have to leave.” He motioned for the cars to follow the driveway around the school, out the other side back to the main street.
Disappointment flooded me, but I thought what a great problem for our candidate to have. I followed the cars along the winding driveway marked by directionals painted on the asphalt when the term “sheeple” entered my mind. Move along, right this way. I noticed a sizable group of people standing out front of the performance arts building. I drove along the exit route where plenty of parking spaces waited near the back of the building. I was not about to let hearsay rule my day. I would go check out for myself what was going on out front.
Whipping the car into one of the spots, I parked, grabbed my iPhone, locked the door, and set out walking with a faux air of confidence. At least I’d try to look like I knew what I was doing. As I walked around the back of the building, I saw a couple young Ron Paul supporters putting fliers on car windows and could hear cheering crowds inside. I made my way to the front and joined in line with the large waiting group. Someone with the campaign, we’ll call him Big Guy, noticed my approach and said, “We’re full inside. They’re not letting anyone else in.” That’s okay, I just wanted to be part of the experience.
I could sense that everyone stood there for a similar reason, not that we expected anything more, but simply to be among other people who understand the real message that Newt Gingrich has been telling us all along. His message has not wavered, and those of us who have listened, understand. In a world of confusion, it was nice to be among other people rooting for the same real solution.
Big Guy worked the crowd, clearly missing his calling at The Punch Line, receiving smiles, laughter, and positive comments. One lady in front of me grabbed a Newt 2012 yard sign and held on to it for dear life. Another man with the campaign peeled off his Newt 2012 sticker from his shirt and gave it to me. It was a friendly group.
After about ten minutes, someone from inside relayed a message to Big Guy who turned to the crowd and said, “Your persistence paid off. They’re letting you in, but it’s standing room only.” Woot! No problem! “Don’t throw anything at me for making you stand out here and wait,” he said. I answered back, “No way. We’re not Occupiers. We’re Newt supporters. We don’t play that way.” Others in line laughed and agreed.
People filed in one door, and someone said, “There’s another door down that side if you want to go there.” So once again, I blazed a new trail and went away from the line which put me on the wings of the room about half way from where Herman Cain was addressing the crowd. I stood in an alcove next to a uniformed marshall and other on-lookers equipped with cameras thankful for my recent shower and Lysterine and for having grown to 5’10” tall. Throughout the speeches, I took pictures and kept the Twitter feed active.
Then Newt took the stage to a cheering crowd.
Newt spoke of real solutions. No pie-in-the-sky touchy-feely nonsense, but practical answers to some of our nation’s greatest problems. Just like he did on day one of his job as Speaker of the House when he lead Congress to cut $34 million from their spending, he addressed what he will do on day one as President of the USA. Newt Gingrich is a doer and a fighter. He doesn’t care if people “like” him. He doesn’t ask anyone to be “for” him. Instead, he asks that we be “with” him, because together we can make changes to set this ship back on course before it capsizes like a recent cruise ship did off the coast of Italy.
Newt spotted me and waved. Okay, just kidding about that, but anyway, once the speech was done, he and his entourage left the stage. I assumed they’d escaped out the back and been whisked away like rockstars after a concert. Delegates to the meeting remained seated while others left wearing their new stickers and with a renewed sense of energy and hope.
I moseyed out front where I’d stood earlier and found one of the last remaining yard campaign signs. Others walked over to pick up one but instantly saw that the upside-down signs read “Santorum.” Ew, wrong sandbox, sir. Those toys remained untouched. A local Atlanta news truck waited on scene.
Satisfied with all that had transpired and still plenty of time before I needed to head to my niece’s bridal shower, I strolled back towards my car when I noticed two long lines of people gathered by the rear door of the building.
I approached a woman near the door and asked if they were still inside, and she confirmed in a lovely Swedish accent they hadn’t yet come out but had come to the door and waved. Well, by golly, this rally just kept getting more fun by the minute.
Surveying the line, I decided not to stand by the door where they’d likely rush out but to head towards the destination—a waiting SUV at the end. Hey, this was NOT my first rodeo.
Then the door opened, and out flowed the group, first security, then Herman Cain, and then the Gingrich family and Newt himself. Instead of dashing down the prepared lane like a bride and groom escaping to a honeymoon get-away, they stopped and shook hands, signed autographs, and took pictures with supporters along the way. When one man shouted something about common sense, Cain replied, “What we gotta do is get ‘em to stop watching MSNBC. They’re watching the wrong channels.” One lady told him she loved his message. Greeting others Cain said, “I’ve been working hard y’all. It ain’t over.”
As he neared, he was focusing on people on the other side of the railing, so I shouted out “Mr. Cain. Mr. Cain.” He knelt down to take a photo with a child, but before he got away, I shouted out the closing statement he uses on his new Cain Connections radio addresses, “Mr. Cain, we are not stupid.” That caught his ear, so he turned back, reached out to shake my hand and repeated, “We are NOT.”
Then Mr. Gingrich continued down the aisle speaking to everyone along the way. “Don’t give up,” one onlooker said. More thumbs up, autographs, and photo ops from Newt.
When he was in front of me, I said, “Mr. Speaker, can’t wait to call you Mr. President.” He shook my right hand and reached up with his left to pat my forearm with his other hand saying, “With your help.”
Mr. Gingrich finished gracefully with the crowd before boarding the big bus. We applauded, cheered, and waved. As the bus pulled out and onto its next stop, we felt a glimmer of hope and desire that all Americans would hear his message and know that the common sense solution was right here. If only they’d stop getting their news from Entertainment Tonight and their information from commercials, take the time to listen to the man who has a proven track record of accomplishing real change in Washington, then we will have a fighting chance.